Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ghosts in the Machine..

I liked this article, The Wired and the Dead. It touches on the way that people mourn and how in reality we really haven't changed at all. The Facebook and Myspace pages are in some ways even more poignant, since they represent the work and thoughts of the individuals just prior to them passing away, as opposed to the more traditional format where other people write the obituary and offer the person through a more filtered perspective (often glossing over the some of the points that the writers don't want to be seen). I think that these feel more real to me as the memorials/shines for these kids who have passed behind the veil than any physical memorial or tombstone. They represent the reality, aka "the good, the bad, the ugly".

Additionally they are more available to the people that they have touched, it brings them closer because it no longer requires a physical visit to a gravesite to remember the person, it can be achieved through the simple click of a mouse.... Interestingly it also marks a form a shift to a more Eastern view of religion, where the departed are remembered in shrines that are often located inside the home as opposed to the more Christian approach of holing them off in a graveyard.

One thing it does make you ponder though is that the impact of your work (actually I should say life, so many of us live so much through electronic means nowadays) here on the electronic frontier and also makes you consider what the people in the future will see of you when this remains one of your most visible marks.

I think another thing that needs to be addressed is some form of allowing family members access to this content (I remember a lawsuit that was brought not too long ago when the family wanted to gain access to a recently dead service members account and that Yahoo wasn't granting it based on the terms of service that we all agree to when signing up). I know that god forbid anything were to happen to any of my family I would want to preserve their content (though I personally have the biggest electronic footprint for the family) in some way shape or form. I am glad that Facebook made the exception for the VT Students and I also really hope that they develop a standard for dealing with this in the future..

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